MDC9, also known as meltrin γ, is a membrane-anchored metalloprotease. MDC9 contains several distinct protein domains: a signal sequence followed by a prodomain and a domain showing sequence similarity to snake venom metalloproteases, a disintegrin-like domain, a cysteine-rich region, an epidermal-growth-factor-like repeat, a transmembrane domain and a cytoplasmic domain. Here we demonstrate that MDC9 expressed in COS cells is cleaved between the prodomain and the metalloprotease domain. Further, when MDC9 was co-expressed in COS cells with amyloid precursor protein (APP695) and treated with phorbol ester, APP695 was digested exclusively at the α-secretory site in MDC9-expressing cells. When an artificial α-secretory site mutant was also co-expressed with MDC9 and treated with phorbol ester, APP secreted by α-secretase was not increased in conditional medium. Inhibition of MDC9 by a hydroxamate-based metalloprotease inhibitor, SI-27, enhanced β-secretase cleavage. These results suggest that MDC9 has an α-secretase-like activity and is activated by phorbol ester.

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